Culture · Public Policy · Society

Blackouts and Power Failures: Another Dark Story for Northern India

Yesterday evening, I was busy searching a topic for my new blog. Suddenly, a known voice came to my ears, “Computer band karo, light ka koi bharosa ni kab tak ayegi”. An enlightening thought in the darkness jolted my mind and I decided to express the daily cries for the people of North India.

Let me tell you my encounter with the details of google search for “Power Cuts in Northern India” which made me realize how internationalized this region of our developing country is due to these routine acts of power cuts.

Power Cuts in North India spark riots” – Al Jazzera

Thousands enraged by power cuts amid North –Indian heat wave riot and set-stations on fire.” – Fox News Channel

Indian riots during power cuts during heat wave” –New York Times

Above written headlines are just to show the severity of the issue which is a parallel reality in the developing story of India. The aggression, dissatisfaction and outrage of people in the biggest participatory democracy of the world on the question of energy security have not gone unnoticed even in the international media.

North India, with the most impoverished states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar has yet another story to tell about her grievances for which both rural and urban population without any distinction of class have raised their voices. The irregular power-cuts and the uncertain blackouts due to mismanagement and incautious behaviour towards the power supply to this region, most of the common people of the region are deprived of the tranquil and relaxed life for which energy is a fuel in the contemporary scenario.

While searching for the grounds on which the great edifice of inefficient power sector has been established, I had a face–off with these realities.

  • The demand –supply dynamics for the power sector in India is well-discussed and when it comes to highly populated regions like North India the problem gets severe. Famous “Jugad” technology for non-payment of bills and the stories of power-thefts get intense, which in turn hampers the distribution of electricity in the region.
  • North India had the biggest blackout in history in 2012 which resulted in the failure of Northern grid firstly and then the Eastern grid through which the supply was delivered to the region leaving 700 million people without power. Though the dream to build a common grid became successful recently but the efficiency of this critical infrastructure is still in question. The well documented Electricity Act, 2003 and a National Electricity Policy still have a long way to go when it comes to the area of implementation.
  • The above discussed ones are not the only problems faced. The great politics of the region which has a lot to do with the vote politics and constituency politics add a lot to poor faith of the region.Section 3(1) of the Electricity Act 2003 explicitly suggests that there should be coordination and brainstorming consultation between the Central Electricity Authority and State Governments to run the national electricity policy smoothly but the appeasement policy of State Governments like Uttar Pradesh results in the high subsidization of electricity as their political tools which results in the misuse of power and the non-payment of electricity bills.

I am pretty sure that most of the people reading this blog are surely familiar with the list of regions but there is still a lot to think about. As people always have something to say against the government and even I agree that they have a right to disagree. The top-down improvement is expected by everyone but in a field like electricity a common person has a big role to play.

How many people in the region care for the electricity they are wasting?

How many people are interested in changing their old meters with the new electric meters and to get them corrected if they are not working well?

How many people are contributing to generation of electricity through bio-degradable fuels in their cities or towns as they have to pay a minimal amount for the contribution of waste?

Yes, my questions could sound idealistic to some people but the paucity of skilled   persons and the willingness to work for their cities and the awareness which should be provided through different campaigns are not the part of this region’s air. Effective Centralization is government’s job but it is high time that we allocate some work to ourselves as well.

When one thinks of solutions being territorially confined with their nation-state, we tend to miss a lot of opportunities. Let’s think of this problem by allotting to ourselves the title of a South Asian citizen, yes there are many opportunities which would be of great help for North India.

  • North- India has great neighbours, interestingly, who happen to have a great potential for hydro- power generation. Higher exploitation of hydroelectricity can mitigate the grievances of the region through electricity trading.
  • With the estimated statistics of a website Energy & Power , Nepal is yet to exploit 98.7 percent of the total hydroelectric generation potential, followed by Afghanistan of 98 percent and Bhutan 95 percent. If these countries are able to exploit the untapped generation potential, not only will they be able to meet their domestic demand but also have surplus electricity to be exported to other countries in the region and help them meet the respective energy needs.”
  • Active role of two-track engagement in the functional area like energy can be a win-win strategy for the region in the near future and a vision to establish an inter-regional grid for prosperity can be a benchmark step for enhancing the living standard of the region as a whole.

Thus the problem of electricity and the aggression of people due to hurdles created by these uncertain challenges in their economic, social and jovial life are not only the responsibility of our government. With the phenomenon of ‘Glocalization’, it is essential to utilize full potential of global and local opportunities both.

About the Author
Naina SinghNaina Singh is currently pursuing her majors in international relations from South Asian University, New Delhi. Most of the time shes read for fueling her thinking. She loves to take out time sports.She has developed an affiliation towards cultural studies, strategic studies and regional studies. She is currently pursuing her internship with Alexis Centre for Public Policy and International Relations.

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